The emergence of Small Cells requires that more physical infrastructure is installed to support the Small Cell network design.
Our experience has shown us that macro tower sites have evolved from carrier-specific infrastructure to a shared resource owned and managed by tower companies. Small cells will eventually follow that path, as part of making the technology financially viable.
At this point in the technology evolution, “neutral host” in small cells doesn’t have the same meaning as in DAS, where three or four carriers plus public safety networks can be supported. Instead, it tends to mean that a small cell is dual-band. Different operators could use each band and/or share spectrum in markets where carriers leverage that option such as in Europe and Latin America. Small cells can also integrate Wi-Fi and increase capacity through off-load to that technology. A neutral host deployment may also not mean that equipment from each carrier is deployed on the same pole, but that equipment from multiple carriers could be placed on poles adjacent to one another that leverage dark fiber along the same route and still meet each operator’s individual needs for radio planning.